“On their watchlist for years”: Journalist drops big Arsenal transfer claim on £20m star player

Arsenal have been keeping a close eye on Celtic star Matt O’Riley for several years, according to transfer insider Dean Jones.

The Gunners were in the market for a midfielder right up to the 11pm deadline on Thursday, with the ex-Fulham youngster a player of interest.

What’s the latest news involving O’Riley?

O’Riley has come on leaps and bounds since leaving Fulham, highlighted by the fact he could face Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday.

That’s because since his Craven Cottage departure, the 21-year-old has played for MK Dons, with his form eventually catching the attention of Celtic, where he’s since become a regular.

As a result, Arsenal, along with Liverpool, Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund were all keen on him this summer, with ESPN claiming that a bid of £15m-£20m could have tempted the Scottish champions to sell.

None arrived and O’Riley ended up staying at Celtic, but Jones revealed that the Gunners’ interest isn’t a recent thing.

What did Jones say about O’Riley?

He told GIVEMESPORT: “O’Riley is someone who’s been on their watchlist for years, since he was coming through at Fulham he was a player they were keeping tabs on him.

“To varying degrees, he hasn’t quite lived up to his billing at that point. At MK Dons and Celtic, he’s displayed some traits that could show he is a top talent and there’s always been a few clubs sniffing around for him.”

How has O’Riley performed this season?

In his first half a campaign as a Celtic player, O’Riley registered four goals and two assists to help the Glasgow giants lift the Scottish Premiership title and secure automatic qualification into the Champions League.

But the former MK Dons and Fulham star has already taken his game to another level in his first full season in Scottish football.

In six appearances, he’s laid on five assists, four of which have come in the thumping victories over Dundee United and Rangers.

In the Old Firm victory on Sunday, O’Riley’s first assist was particularly impressive, with his defence-splitting pass taking three players out of the game and allowing Jota to scoop home Celtic’s second on the day.

O’Riley’s five assists puts him top of the charts, while he’s creating more than two chances on average every time he takes to the field.

With that type of quality in his locker, it’s no wonder some of Europe’s top clubs are watching him.

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